Crucial week for gov’t with draft budget, vote of confidence

The coalition faces another difficult week, with the draft budget for 2015 to be submitted in Parliament on Monday amid ongoing negotiations with the troika and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras expected to seek a vote of confidence in the government.

Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis is to present the draft budget for next year to the House on Monday morning. According to sources, the blueprint predicts a primary surplus for 2015 which is very close to the 3 percent target demanded by the troika without any new austerity measures. The draft is expected to include the tax breaks heralded by Samaras last month – a 30 percent cut to a tax on heating oil and a reduction to a solidarity tax on income. The premier’s promise to restore the wages of police and armed forces staff is also expected to be honored with the cuts expected to be revoked as of November.

Once the draft budget is presented to Parliament, several weeks of debate are expected to follow before the revised version is finalized and put to a vote, which must be done before November 10.

Before the debate on the budget heats up, Parliament is to host a discussion on a vote of confidence in the government which Samaras is expected to request on Monday when the House resumes normal operations after its reduced summer session. The move was heralded last week by government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi in an apparent attempt to rally coalition lawmakers and halt intensifying speculation about early elections.

Leftist SYRIZA, which is determined to block the coalition partners’ candidate for president in February, has been pushing for early elections and is widening its lead in opinion polls. A number of coalition MPs have also suggested that snap polls might be a good idea.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais published on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Greece was beginning to emerge from the crisis but that “political stability” was a prerequisite for change. He emphasized that Greece will not need a third loan program.

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